Category Archives: duathlon

It’s not just about the race…

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I have flirted with the idea of a duathlon for several years now, so I vowed to finally make it happen in 2016! A gentle push by a fellow runner made me realize that it was indeed time to conquer my fear of racing on a bike. In January, I signed up for my first spinning class with the formidable Nireas Triathlon Club. I puffed incessantly as the group spinned tirelessly, but I was not ready to give up! A few weeks later, I inspired a friend to join along, and by February, we had both committed to participate in the Pervolia Duathlon, a run-bike-run event on March 13.

My first duathlon would be dedicated to the loving memory of a dear friend of heart, Kyriakos (Koullis) Pontikis (aka my Zen Master). Koullis’ oasis of calmness, words of wisdom, unparalleled wit and cheeky smile sealed my commitment to this race and accompanied me throughout my training.

Koullis Pontikis

But, more about this thrilling experience in my letter to Koullis…

My dearest Friend,

My decision to race was coupled with three vows:

  1. Don’t be intimidated by faster cyclists
  2. Don’t fall
  3. Enjoy the journey, and smile along!

But, I was extremely nervous yesterday. Not only would I be racing on a bike for the first time, I would also be ‘competing’ against robust triathletes, including a handful of Russian Olympians (!) or so, I was informed. 

Have I mentioned that I would be racing on a mountain bike (aka ‘fat tires’), while everyone else would be on a road bike with much higher gearing? More like a Fiat against 99 Ferrari’s.

bike

 ‘Just make sure you stay on the very edge of the street’ my 10-year old buddy, Nicolas advised me before the race. 

We ran the first 5k in glorious weather amidst stunning valleys of wild flowers. Koulli, I have told you before that the runners’ spirit is absolutely reviving and addictive. I just couldn’t stop smiling.

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Vow 3, check!

 As I entered the transition area to mount my bike for the 20k leg, I realized that most of the bikes were gone. I struggled on the first loop, cycling against the wind. I soon caught a glimpse of cyclists riding with such speed and natural elegance that I began to wonder what I was doing there. 

But that thought vanished as I recalled Vow 1!

As the first cyclists started to head south to complete their first loop, the words ‘Bravo Mahi’ echoed in my ears. The Nireas team knew that this was a serious leap out of my comfort zone, and they cheered me on, along with dear friends who pampered me with love and hoorays. Vow 3, check again, along with Vow 2! I was on top of the world.

The last leg of the race was a 2.5k run, and I must admit that my legs couldn’t move. But just when I was ready to start walking, a white butterfly fluttered around me. I smiled as a tear slid down my cheek. And I ran that last kilometer with an undeviating smile as I pictured Louis doing the hand jive and getting jiggy with Greased Lightning.

The Russian Olympian finished first at 54min 50sec while the race came to an official close about an hour later. More specifically, at 1H 48min 16 sec. And that exactly was my finish time as it was attained on two legs and two fat tires!

A magnificent journey, dedicated to you… Your LEGACY will forever last in my memory…

PS: I thank Laura Koumas-Lioliou for capturing the very essence of the event through these photos. Laura, I repeat: It’s not just about the race but the wonderful people along your journey!

With training buddy, Elias Liolios

With training buddy, Elias Liolios

a duathlon with Team Azul…

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So, I was in a relay team for my first duathlon today and I am really excited! The duathlon (a running and biking competition) was made up of a 5k run followed by a 20k bike and another 5k run. I was the designated runner and my teammate the elected cyclist for Team Azul (the Blue Team). In all honesty, I have been flirting with the idea of doing a duathlon solo for over three years, however, I still haven’t come to terms with conquering my fear of cycling on the street vs the park. Well…. not until today when that feeling of exhilaration caused me to ponder that with some upright training, I should be able to take that leap before the summer.
 
Here’s a taste of an absolutely thrilling event where team work and lots of fun were the order of the day!
06.45   Alarm goes off and by 7, I take Luna for a vigorous walk.
08.00   Ready to get on the road after my high fiber breakfast and mental preparation.
09.00  At St. Raphael Resort in Limassol where I see a lot of familiar faces (all smiling!)
10.00  The race starts with a challenge…the wind was blowing so hard that at some point I felt that I was going backwards! My nose and ears were filled with sand and an allergic cough took over my breathing…. For an instant I thought of going back, but my runner’s spirit instantly wiped out that thought. I run up that first hill and turned right, having a stunning seafront as my backdrop. ‘Who can beat that?’ I thought and continued running with a grin.
 
Minutes later, I started contemplating on something which I said a few months ago…. That ‘people who are presented with a health challenge, have no choice but to keep ‘walking’….’ Having dwelled on that thought many times, I told myself that, just like them, I cannot stop running just because there are some hurdles on the road!’ I kept running for the wonderful Team Azul as I soaked up that dazzling blue energy of the sea and sky.
 
As with most races, I run in an effort to bring into light, my best of energies for people I truly care for. Today’s race was dedicated to three friends of heart, who continue to ‘walk’ as true warriors of life, despite the health challenges in their path.
As I was finishing my first lap, I caught a glimpse of two dear friends. ‘My lovely BABORians are here!!’ I cried with such enthusiasm while they were cheering for me. I often use the phrase ‘smiles of heart.’ Well, today there was a plethora of these smiles of heart! Thanks to my BABORians, the team spirit, my wonderful running buddies and dear friends of over a decade, and the incredible feeling of finishing the race, and getting a medal too!
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